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ORRIN MORRIS: Take a hike in moist, open woods to find Virginia bluebell

VIRGINIA BLUEBELLMertensia Virginia

VIRGINIA BLUEBELLMertensia Virginia

The scripture verse, John 3:17, has greatly impacted my life and ministry. It reads, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."This verse has a lot to say about how we practice the commandment, "love your neighbor as yourself."

Once the religious leaders brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus so she could be stoned to death because of her sin. Jesus said whoever was without sin could cast the first stone.

Each accuser hung his head and left. Jesus turned to the woman and said, "Where are your accusers?" She said they were gone, and then Jesus said "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).

I was taught as a young minister to stick my finger in people's faces and call sin what it was. But who am I to ignore Jesus' words and examples? Am I greater than he? No, I must walk away from the stoning, for I am not without sin.

What is left for me to do? First, live as best I can to be what Jesus taught His followers to be. Second, I must let God be God so that His Spirit can reveal the truth and the way for all to live (see John 16:8-11).

The wildflower to begin this Lenten season is the bluebell. Not only does blue remind us of purity, humility and honesty but, the bells remind us of the celebration we will share this Easter regarding Jesus' resurrection.VIRGINIA BLUEBELL

Mertensia VirginiaThe Virginia bluebell is in the forget-me-not family. I first saw it blooming while visiting the North Carolina Botanical Garden near Asheville, N.C. Its natural range extends from the Appalachians, including northern Georgia, into the eastern fringe of the Great Plains.

Generally the bluebell plant stands 1 foot tall. When in large clusters they make a fascinating display of gray-green leaves, pink buds and light blue flowers, as pictured.

The bell-shaped flowers are about 1 inch long with five shallow lobes. The blooms appear from March to June. The favorite habitat is moist open woods. The Virginia bluebell, also called Virginia cowslip, is rarely found in a meadow.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.